Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday dollars + sense: Not leaving Canberra

I regard Canberra as something close to paradise. And although I am leaving The Canberra Times I am not leaving Canberra.

I felt that I had found “home” when I arrived here from my original home of Adelaide back at the start of the 1980s.

Canberra seemed to be everything that other parts of Australia were, but more so.

It had more trees, more openness, a greater sense of belonging.

And yet Canberra was Australia's newest city, derided by people in bigger towns who couldn't understand why we would want to be part of the landscape rather than looking away from it towards the sea.

Since returning here to work as The Canberra Times' economics editor two years ago I've noticed that much has changed, some of it for the worse...

The once magnificent ACTION bus service is a parody of what it was. It looks as if more effort has gone into producing the new shiny signs that say we have a bus service than actually providing one.

Self-government was a mistake, but one that's impossible to take back. The Commonwealth won't have us and it would be wrong to hand the home of the Parliament to NSW.

The new substandard housing blocks in Gungahlin appall me. The blunder that deprived them of proper access to the internet is an added insult.

The government is arrogant and at times doesn't even seem interested.

The Live in Canberra campaign is a joke, and a cruel one. It reeks of an inferiority complex. What other Australian city apart from Adelaide would even try such a stunt? Where are the houses that the new arrivals would live in?

But the things that I first fell in love with in Canberra are still here.

On our first morning back two years ago my daughter Grace said “people smile at you here”.

We marveled at the birds, the expanses of (brown) grass, and the relaxed spacious nature of the environment.

We felt wanted, cared for, among friends.

I'll miss the personal contact with readers after I leave The Canberra Times – many of them neighbours, people I see at the shops.

Although I'll be staying in Canberra, I'll be writing for a newspaper far away, with readers in a city in which I don't live.

I'll no longer feel that we are sharing the same things, that we breathe the same air, that we are all part of something really special.

So if you see me on the street, riding my bike or trying to change busses, or picking up the kids, say “hello”. I'm not going anywhere.

This is Peter Martin's last column as Canberra Times economics editor.


Anonymous said...

We'll be sorry to see you go, Peter. But I suspect that your outlook on Canberra will improve once you are free of the Canberra Times, and away from the narrow-minded, small-minded, biased, lightweight bigotry which permeates the Hicksville Rag. if there is anything wrong with Canberra, it is the absolute mediocrity of the worst newspaper in Australia.

Geoff Broughton said...

Hey Peter,


Nicholas Gruen said...


You've done a bloody marvellous job at the CT and of course the rest of the press are not silly so, like lots of other talent spotted at the CT, the Age has snaffled you up.

Richly deserved. Meanwhile I can read you over a nice Melbourne brekkie.

LETTER said...

Letter to the Editor, August 5, 2008


I am very sorry to hear that Peter Martin is leaving The Canberra Times.

Handicapped by writing within the fuzzy world of economics, he invariably wrote interestingly and enlighteningly.

I wish him well.

Jack Lonergan, Isaacs

LETTER said...

LETTER TO EDITOR, August 7, 2008


I'm sorry economics editor Peter Martin has left The Canberra Times (''Leaving, but not going anywhere'', August 3, p28).

He was the best thing to happen to the newspaper in recent years.

Moira Smythe, Forrest

LETTER said...

Letter to Editor, August 8, 2008

Farewell Peter Martin (''Leaving, but not going anywhere'', August 3, p28), whose comments on ACTION buses were spot on.

It now takes me roughly twice as long to travel to and from my home in the inner south to my work in the inner north as it did before the changes of June 2, 2008, and roughly three times longer than if I drove.

However, Martin's praise of the beautiful environment of our city must be qualified in view of the growth of car parks taking over our greenspace, for example, at the north end of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and at Russell.

There is a logic here: a bus service which is no real service forces more people to use cars, and more cars require more car parks.

How long are we going to allow this logic to continue to operate, and at what cost to ourselves, our children, and the environment?

F. Carr, Griffith

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